“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom,” Socrates vowed. Once you have an understanding of who you are, you can plot a course to achieve goals and live your dreams. While knowing thyself is imperative in navigating life’s daily challenges, big and small, it is just the beginning. The critical next step is to believe in yourself and to trust your internal compass.
Being grounded in your personal values and preferences makes you less susceptible to peer pressure. It pains me to see young women and men—and grown adults, for that matter—giving someone else control over who they are out of insecurity or fear of being rejected.
Being yourself is the only choice if you want to be happy and content. Pretending to be someone you think another person wants you to be is not only completely exhausting, but also unfair to those you are fooling. What happens when an entire relationship is built on your charade? Eventually, when you tire of faking and allow your true self to be revealed, the bond is weakened and may break the relationship. Even more tragic is to never stop pretending, resulting in living a sad, inauthentic life.
When the magnetic compass was invented, a whole new world opened for mariners, breaking their dependence on fair, clear skies for navigation. The compass oriented them and allowed them to determine their direction. Similarly, our personal, internal compass of self-knowledge serves to orient us and provide direction as we navigate all aspects of our lives and, importantly, to alert us when we are off course. Like our cars’ modern-day GPS, I propose that each one of us has access to our own internal compass. The key is found through knowing and understanding ourselves. Knowledge of self is a source of great power.
Life is enjoyable and more open to adventure when you stop wasting time seeking approval and validation from others, an unsustainable and unrewarding practice.
I can still hear my mother’s voice as I would exit the house to meet friends: “Remember who you are—and be true to yourself.” Trust your own compass—you are the only (and best) person to set the direction your life will take.
I’m here if you need me. Until then, y’all behave.